Bone has the capacity to regenerate and not scar after injury – sometimes leaving behind no evidence at all of a prior fracture. As surgeons capable of facilitating such healing, it becomes our responsibility to help choose a treatment that minimizes functional deficits and residual symptoms. And in the case of the geriatric hip fracture, we have seen the accumulation of a vast amount of evidence to help guide us. The best method we currently have for selecting treatment plans is by the practice of evidence-based medicine. According to the now accepted hierarchy, the best is called Level I evidence (e.g., well performed randomized controlled trials) – but this evidence is best only if it is available and appropriate. Lower forms of accepted evidence include cohort studies, case control studies, case series, and case reports, and last, expert opinion – all of which can be potentially instructive. The hallmark of evidence-based treatment is not so much the reliance on evidence in general, but to use the best available evidence relative to the particular patient, the clinical setting and surgeon experience. Correctly applied, varying forms of evidence each have a role in aiding surgeons offer appropriate care for their patients – to help them best fix the fracture.
fracture; orthopedic trauma; evidence-based medicine; surgical decision making; level of evidence; expert opinion; collective intelligence
Thrombosis of the inferior vena cava (IVC) is governed by Virchow's triad of stasis of blood flow, endothelial damage and hypercoagulability. Causes may be secondary to malignancy, congenital anomalies or other infrequent events such as external compression. We present a case of external compression of the IVC leading to extensive thrombus burden secondary to a benign hepatic cyst.
PRESENTATION OF CASE
A 72 year old African American female presented to the emergency department with new onset shortness of breath, right lower extremity weakness and swelling. CT imaging demonstrated multiple hepatic cysts compressing the IVC, leading to extensive clot burden. Treatment with heparin drip was initiated without resolution of her symptoms. Transcatheter mechanical thrombectomy and tPA infusion was performed. After 24 h, swelling and weakness were nearly resolved. The patient was bridged to therapeutic low molecular weight heparin in preparation for surgery.
Management of IVC thrombosis has typically been with a heparin drip and transition to oral anticoagulants. Thrombolysis has been shown to promote complete clot lysis more often than compared to standard anticoagulant therapy. In addition, venous patency was better maintained.
We feel that the added benefit of short term effects of improved venous patency and long term benefits of less post thrombotic syndrome, catheter based tPA administration and mechanical thrombectomy for thrombus offers an adjuvant treatment in the setting of large clot burden refractory to standard treatment.
Wide variation in procedure utilization suggests that surgical indications might not be rigorously defined. An alternative explanation is that surgical outcomes are valued differently across groups. When a patient, using the information provided by the surgeon, places high value on successful results or is indifferent to the costs of ineffective treatment, the treatment threshold is lower and more surgery will be chosen.
Is there a high variation in patients’ preferences and, therefore, high variation in treatment thresholds? Do people poorly estimate their own treatment thresholds?
I presented a hypothetical scenario describing a diagnostically uncertain meniscus injury to 100 college students, asking them to rate the value of the four end points based on treatment choice (arthroscopy chosen/declined) and post hoc knowledge of the true diagnosis (tear present/absent). From those data, I calculated treatment thresholds. Subjects also estimated their treatment threshold directly.
The calculated treatment thresholds ranged from 4% to 88%. A discrepancy of at least 20% between the calculated and subject-estimated thresholds was present in 61 subjects.
There is great variance in the treatment threshold reported; additionally, many subjects poorly predicted their own calculated treatment thresholds.
Variability in patient preferences for outcome is an important, but perhaps underestimated, clinical parameter. Meaningful assessment of patient preferences when recommending treatment or creating clinical practice guidelines will lead to better shared decision making.
When performing reconstruction of the ACL, the major complications that can arise include missed concomitant injuries, tunnel malposition, patellar fracture, knee stiffness, and infection. We review the complications that can occur as a result of errors made before, during, and after surgery.
In a 2003 report, required courses in musculoskeletal medicine were found in only 65 of the 122 medical schools in the United States. Since then, national efforts to promote musculoskeletal medicine education were led by the US Bone and Joint Decade, the American Medical Association, the Association of American Medical Colleges, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, and the National Board of Medical Examiners, among others. Whether these efforts resulted in any changes in curricula is unclear.
We assessed the change, if any, in the prevalence of required instruction in musculoskeletal medicine, which might be attributed to these reform efforts.
Curriculum requirements were ascertained by an email survey sent to all 127 medical schools in the United States and from the schools’ websites. The presence of a preclinical course or block dedicated to musculoskeletal medicine was noted. Likewise, the requirement for a clerkship in a musculoskeletal discipline (comprising orthopaedic surgery, rheumatology, or physical medicine) was recorded.
One hundred of the 127 medical schools in the United States had required preclinical courses in musculoskeletal medicine. Among the schools without such a course, six had a required musculoskeletal clerkship. Thus, 106 schools had some requirement, with only 21 (17%) lacking required instruction in musculoskeletal medicine. This rate compares favorably with the 47% rate (57 of the 122 schools) reported previously.
The prevalence of required instruction in musculoskeletal medicine is greater compared with the prevalence reported in previous studies. Musculoskeletal medicine appears to have attained a more prominent place in the curriculum at most schools.
In humans, congenital and hereditary skin diseases associated with epidermal cell-cell separation (acantholysis) are very rare, and spontaneous animal models of these diseases are exceptional. Our objectives are to report a novel congenital acantholytic dermatosis that developed in Chesapeake Bay retriever dogs. Nine affected puppies in four different litters were born to eight closely related clinically normal dogs. The disease transmission was consistent with an autosomal recessive mode of inheritance. Clinical signs occurred immediately after birth with superficial epidermal layers sloughing upon pressure. At three month of age, dogs exhibited recurrent superficial skin sloughing and erosions at areas of friction and mucocutaneous junctions; their coat was also finer than normal and there were patches of partial hair loss. At birth, histopathology revealed severe suprabasal acantholysis, which became less severe with ageing. Electron microscopy demonstrated a reduced number of partially formed desmosomes with detached and aggregated keratin intermediate filaments. Immunostaining for desmosomal adhesion molecules revealed a complete lack of staining for plakophilin-1 and anomalies in the distribution of desmoplakin and keratins 10 and 14. Sequencing revealed a homozygous splice donor site mutation within the first intron of PKP1 resulting in a premature stop codon, thereby explaining the inability to detect plakophilin-1 in the skin. Altogether, the clinical and pathological findings, along with the PKP1 mutation, were consistent with the diagnosis of ectodermal dysplasia-skin fragility syndrome with plakophilin-1 deficiency. This is the first occurrence of ectodermal dysplasia-skin fragility syndrome in an animal species. Controlled mating of carrier dogs would yield puppies that could, in theory, be tested for gene therapy of this rare but severe skin disease of children.
Medical diagnosis, like all products of human cognition, is subject to error. We tested the hypothesis that errors of diagnosis in the realm of fracture classification can be reduced by a consensus (group) diagnosis; and that digital imaging and Internet access makes feasible the compilation of a diagnostic consensus in real time.
Twelve orthopaedic surgeons were asked to evaluate 20 hip radiographs demonstrating a femoral neck fracture. The surgeons were asked to determine if the fractures were displaced or not. Because no reference standard is available, the maximal accuracy of the diagnosis of displacement can be inferred from inter-observer reliability: if two readers disagree about displacement, one of them must be wrong. That method was employed here. Additionally, virtual reader groups of 3 and 5 individual members were amalgamated, with the response of those groups defined by majority vote. The purpose of this step was to see if increasing the number of readers would improve accuracy. In a second experiment, to study the feasibility of amassing a reader group on the Internet in real time, 40 volunteers were sent 10 periodic email requests to answer questions and their response times were assessed.
The mean kappa coefficient for individual inter-observer reliability for the diagnosis of displacement was 0.69, comparable to prior published values. For 3-member virtual reader groups, inter-observer reliability was 0.77; and for 5-member groups, it was 0.80. In the experiment studying the feasibility of amassing a reader group in real time, the mean response time was 594 minutes. For all cases, a 9-member group (theoretically 99% accurate) was amassed in 135.8 minutes or less.
Consensus may improve diagnosis. Amassing a group for this purpose on the Internet is feasible.
Resident duty hours have been restricted to 80 per week, a limitation thought to increase patient safety by allowing adequate sleep. Yet decreasing work hours increases the number of patient exchanges (so-called “handoff”) at the end of shifts.
Where are we now?
A greater frequency of handoff leads to an increased risk of physician error. Information technology can be used to minimize that risk.
Where do we need to go?
A computer-based expert system can alleviate the problems of data omissions and data overload and minimize asynchrony and asymmetry. A smart system can further prompt departing physicians for information that improves their understanding of the patient’s condition. Likewise, such a system can take full advantage of multimedia; generate a study record for self-improvement; and strengthen the interaction between specialists jointly managing patients.
How do we get there?
There are impediments to implementation, notably requirements of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act; medical-legal ramifications, and computer programming costs. Nonetheless, the use of smart systems, not to supplant physicians’ rational facilities but to supplement them, promises to mitigate the risks of frequent patient handoff and advance patient care. Thus, a concerted effort to promote such smart systems on the part of the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (the source of the duty hour restrictions) and the Association of American Medical Colleges (representing medical schools and teaching hospitals) may be effective. We propose that these organizations host a contest for the best smart handoff systems and vigorously promote the winners.